Aylesbury as a music town – from the fifties to Friars

For many years, Aylesbury had an excellent reputation as a “music town”, with a wide variety of live music across different genres. The main venues were the Grosvenor Ballroom / Borough Assembly Hall, the Granada Theatre, the Town Hall, Walton Hall and Aylesbury Social Club – and also pubs, such as the Derby Arms.

This site is part of a wider movement to recognise Aylesbury as a music town, both in the past and going forward. By drawing attention to Aylesbury’s amazing musical past, we hope that this will encourage more music events in the town in the future.

This site covers the pre-Friars period from around the mid-1950s through to 1969. For the Friars period please go to the Friars Aylesbury website, where you will find comprehensive information of everything that happened at Friars Aylesbury from 1969 to the present day.

Please use the search box to find what you are interested in, or follow the links below.

We would love to hear your memories of music in Aylesbury. Please contact us through the form below, or email admin@aylesburymusictown.co.uk.

What’s new?

A page from The Bucks Herald dated 26 August 1993 gives an interesting overview of ,music in Aylesbury.


On Saturday 16 September 2023, David Stopps and Stephen Daglish gave talks as part of 2023 Heritage Open Days at Aylesbury Museum on the history of music in Aylesbury. Stephen gave a brief overview of music from the 50s to Friars, with David covering the Friars years. Behind the group below is an orginbal poster for Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band in Aylesbury from David’s collection.


Jack Clark has kindly sent photos of three posters from 1962 featuring Eddie Prince and the Creoles, who his father was singer with. This one also shows other regulars Russ Sainty and the Nu-Notes and Terry Anton and the Rhythm Rockers.


Chris Shields wrote and kindly provided this photo taken on 19 May 1962 when Colin Hicks (Tommy Steele’s brother) and Cliff Adams and the Twilights played at the Grosvenor.


Left to right: Brian Shields – lead guitar (Chris’ father), Barry Watling – rhythm guitar, Cliff Adams – vocals, Colin Hicks – vocals, Robin Perry – bass guitar, Peter Adams – drums.

Cliff Adams and The Twilights were back at the Grosvenor on 21 July, with The Twilights also backing Paul Raven (later Gary Glitter).

Cliff Adams later changed his name to Clifford Davis (to avoid confusion with the Cliff Adams Singers) and managed Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac.

Barry Sinfield has kindly sent this poster from Christmas Eve 1968. Barry was a member of Bedfordshire based Forever Changes.


Pictured below: Mick Loughton (drums), Cliff Trantum (guitar, vocals), Paul Shreeve (bass guitar) (back), Dennis Taylor (lead guitar) (middle), Mick McAvoy (vocals) and Barry Sinfield (guitar/vocals). Barry describes their music as American West Coast with influences Love, Doors Jefferson Airplane and Buffalo Springfield.


David Stopps has recently acquired the contract between promoter Eddie Friday and The Move for their appearance in Aylesbury on 6 December 1968. See more about 1968 here.


What’s next?

We would like to add details of local bands and artists from this era, and also details of what was going on in smaller venues, such as pubs. We would also love to talk to people about their memories of the gigs in Aylesbury and any memorabilia they might have, or if they played in a band during this period. If you can help, please do get in touch via the email address above.

The Granada Theatre in the High Street presented stage shows between 1958 and 1964. These were “pop package” shows which toured around the country, with two shows a night and many artists on the bill. Artists appearing included the Rolling Stones, Gene Vincent, Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, Billy Fury and Adam Faith.

See links: 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964

From 1959 to the mid 1960s, the Aylesbury Jazz Club (run by Nanda and Ron Lesley) promoted trad jazz. All of the major artists in the world of trad jazz appeared in Aylesbury, including Ken Colyer, Chris Barber, Kenny Ball, Acker Bilk and Humphrey Lyttelton. Between 1959 and 1961 there were a number of “all-nite jazz balls” at the Grosvenor. In 1964, as the popularity of trad jazz declined, Nanda and Ron changed to Aylesbury Bluesville with bands such as The Animals, The Yardbirds, Manfred Mann and Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, as well as visiting artists including John Lee Hooker, Little Walter and Inez and Charlie Foxx.

See links: 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965

Rock music first appeared at the Grosvenor Ballroom in 1960. Eddie Friday promoted gigs on Saturday nights throughout the period until 1968; other promoters included Stanley Wyatt, Paul Haywood, Cyril Meichtry and Adrian Hopkins. From October 1963, the ownership of the hall was taken over by the council and the name was changed from the Grosvenor to the Borough Assembly Hall. Artists appearing included Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, The Barron Knights, The Hollies, The Who, The Small Faces, Cream and Jimi Hendrix.

See links: 1950s, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969

Saturday nights at the Aylesbury Social Club begain in 1968. To start with there were live bands playing soul and reggae each week until early 1970, when DJs took over most weeks, with occasional appearances by artists such as Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon, Desmond Dekker, The Maytals and Jimmy Ruffin. At the time there was a broad split between those who went to the “Social” (mods and skinheads who dressed immaculately) and the Friars crowd (hippies and alternative culture).

See links: 1968, 1969

Local pubs, such as the Derby Arms, were venues for folk, blues and jazz.

Note: This site does not specifically cover classical music in Aylesbury. This deserves to be covered as a separate project. There was an active Aylesbury Music Club that promoted classical music in the town. Today the Aylesbury Choral Society and Aylesbury Symphony Orchestra, founded by Charles Pope, continue to thrive.

Aylesbury born composer Rutland Boughton (1878-1960) retained links with the town throughout his life, and wrote a piece entitled “Aylesbury Games”.


21 thoughts on “Aylesbury as a music town – from the fifties to Friars

  1. Dallan Mulley

    Can not remember the year but saw The Animals perform in the 60’s.

  2. Stephen Daglish

    The Animals played four times in Aylesbury in 1964 – including the week that House of the Rising Sun was number one. There is more here:

    • Anthony Barker

      Hey I lived in Aylesbur, Buckingham Rd from 1952. I remember going to school with Nigel Menday. The name always sticks in my memory because because Nigel had a deformed hand if I’m right and it always impressed that he could play the drums let alone go on to play professionally. Apologies Nigel if I got that bit wrong.
      I also remember a Paul Fish who I think went on to a career in music, anyone remember him.
      Christ we’re going back some years.
      Good luck

  3. Nigel Menday

    Yeah…I played drums at the Granada in Aylesbury in 1962 as part of the Bobby Vee Meets the Crickets rock tour…I was playing for the Crickets and my Mum&Dad hosted my birthday party in Limes Avenue when we came to Aylesbury. The whole show came to it …Memories!

    • Stephen Daglish

      Amazing story! Tony White wrote in his review of the show in the Bucks Advertiser – “Special mention must be made of local boy Nigel Menday, drummer with the Russ Sainty group … Sixteen years-old Nigel, recognised by many of his friends in the audience, was on-stage for most of the show and coped ably with his ordeal.” The article is here:

    • Jim Harding

      I performed as Chris Trent with the Whispering four with Nigel,Noel,Mike and Rocky all around the Aylesbury area until 1962.
      Still rockin now at the grand old age of 78.

    • christopher golding

      Nigel Menday ex of Combe Martin?

    • Brian Gibson

      I went for an audition in your group at Hepworths in Aylesbury High Street ,

  4. Jim Harding

    If anyone wants to get in touch give me call. 01296623802

  5. Matin bourke

    Who renders the concrete parachute
    A local aylesdury band of the mid sixtys

    • Stephen Daglish

      Hi Martin, will be including Concrete Parachute with other local bands in the coming months. Any info, photos, etc., would be very welcome!

  6. Ref: Concrete Parachute I worked with band member Ian Myers (bass) we worked at Radio Rentals Friars Square

    • Sam Joiner

      Ian Meyer was my dad and yes he was in CP as bass player, as well as the Big ‘O ‘ Flap Band and later Arandorius Life. I can member these CP band members were James ‘Topper’ Hopkins, David Hlilsdon, Ken Vincent. Great to hear that people liked their music

  7. Christopher Golding

    Nigel Menday.
    Never forgotten you.
    Thankyou for teaching me to play drums.
    Still so many happy memories of drum lessons and working at the “Current Bun”. Combe Martin.

  8. Nigel Menday

    Hello Chris,
    Only just ‘found’ your communication dated May2019! Brilliant surprise so long down the line. Hope you are OK…love to hear more from you. I had to give up drums and sold my beautiful vintage Ludwig kit about 5 years ago…broke my heart after soooo long.
    Being brief to start with…look forward to hearing when you have time.
    Kindest regards,


      Hi Nigel,
      You won’t remember me but I’m Malcolm Whitby from Derbyshire. I met your dad at the Swan Theater
      and re-introduced him to Bobby Vee. A couple of years later I met you and your family when Bobby returned to the Swan. Your dad was a lovely gentleman and he remained in touch with my wife Pat and I. He started to find difficulty in answering the phone and slowly the calls became less frequent and the Christmas card stopped so I assumed the worst. I would love to hear what became of him. I’m thinking about writing a book about the work I dud with Bobby and I’d like to include about meeting you dad. I’d love to chat with you. My number is 01773 603820 Did you know Jerry Naylor past away in December. Best wishes Malcolm

  9. David Parker

    I worked in the Whispering Four with Nigel Menday, Chris Wigg and Gerry (Rogers I think) Nigel went out with Kiki Dee and we met up in Aylesbury’s Bulls Head (Pulled Down) I wonder if Nigel remembers me. Other Aylesbury Bands I worked in were Eddie Prince and the Creoles and The Cavaliers. The Creoles line up was Jack Ing vocals, Dave Simmons guitar, Jim Alabaster Bass Trev Stott drums, and me on keyboards. I started out with Aylesbury’s Skiffle Group, The Sons of Fred! Happy times.

    • Jack Clark

      Hi David. I have framed posters from the Grosvenor featuring Eddie Prince and the Creoles. Jack is my Dad. I can share pictures.

    • Jack Clark

      Hi David. I have framed posters from the Grosvenor featuring the Eddie Prince and the Creoles, Jack is my Dad. Contact me on aylesbury@gmail.com and I can send pictures.

  10. Ollie Payne

    I think all our memories are a bit shaky nowadays Dave . The original Wispering four that included my brother Noel ( lead ), Mike Ward ( bass ), Rocky Prior ( rhythm and vocals ) , Nigel Menday ( drums ) and singer Pam Cordell ( JimHarding was the original singer and band transport organiser ) had disbanded after not agreeing to go professional . The band did cary on for a short spell with me replacing Nigel who had , as a superb drummer , moved on to very much greater things . We did reform with Chris Wigg ( base and vocals and manager ) Gerry Rogers ( lead ) Me on drums and Pam on vocals ( I have publicity photos of this band ) . At about this time we recruited Dave Parker on keyboard and vocals with his great gravely voice for rocking numbers . Pam left and that’s how we stayed until breaking up eventually . I joined various local bands including Paterson,s people ( once more replacing Nigel ) ( after they had a minor hit with Shake Hands With the Devil ) and also the Cavaliers ( based in Princess Risborough ) who were just going professional . I managed to break my leg in an accident so that was the end of a Summer season in Skegness and my last chance of a career in music . My last group in Aylesbury was Gear Box with Dave Stops etc but that’s another story .
    As a matter of interest sadly Chris Wigg passed away a few years ago in Ireland after a very troubled life . I’d love to say hello to Gerry Rogers who was working for a construction firm last I heard . Waste of a brilliant lead guitarist . I think most or all of the above is correct but as I say old memories can play tricks . I’m glad that so many of us “old rockers ” from Aylesbury are still around . Happy days indeed .

  11. Peter Hopkins

    Ollie Payne? Vale school, specs, maybe? I’m getting old, and the the memory is getting older. Sorry if I’m mistaken. I lived next door to Nigel Menday in Limes Avenue very briefly after my family came home from Hong Kong. We rented the house from a teacher. Can’t remember her name though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.